Loan keeper could be with Boro long-term
AFTER a breathless introduction to life at Middlesbrough, goalkeeper Paul Smith is hoping to secure an extended stay at the Riverside between now and the end of the season. Having only completed a season-long loan from Nottingham Forest on Tuesday morning, 31-year-old Smith was thrust straight into the heart of the action as he made his Middlesbrough debut against Derby on Tuesday night. Things could hardly have gone much better, with Boro overhauling a one-goal deficit to secure a crucial 2-1 victory that lifted them six points clear of the drop zone at the bottom of the Championship. Smith is likely to spend most of the next month in Boro's starting line-up, with fellow goalkeepers Jason Steele and Danny Coyne nursing injuries, and the Epsomborn shot-stopper is already turning his attention to the longer term. If this goes well, of course it's something I'd like to see continue in the future, said Smith. I want to play football, and I obviously haven't been able to do that at Forest. It's only early days, but I think I have enough experience to be able to come in here and do a decent job for Middlesbrough. If that works out, then who knows what might follow I don't want to be spending the rest of my career sitting on the bench watching the rest of the lads play I want to be somewhere where I can be playing, influencing games and doing a valuable job for the team. I've spoken to both the other keepers and they seem really good, genuine lads. It will be good to work with them when they come back, and we'll have to see how things go from there. Whatever happens in the future, Smith is unlikely to experience a more chaotic day than Tuesday. Having contacted more than 30 clubs in an attempt to sign an experienced alternative to teenager Connor Ripley, Boro boss Tony Mowbray had almost given up hope when he spoke with Forest manager Billy Davies late on Monday night. Davies proposed a swap deal involving striker Kris Boyd, and a few minutes later, Smith was offered an opportunity to move to Teesside. He accepted without hesitation, and after an early-morning detour to collect his belongings from Forest's training ground, found himself heading up the M1 in the direction of Rockliffe Park. I've been waiting for a while for a chance to prove myself, but there have been a few clubs interested in me recently and I turned them down because I didn't think it was the right move for me, said Smith. That's obviously not the case with Middlesbrough this is an opportunity I couldn't turn down. It's a chance to play for a massive Championship club. I know Middlesbrough aren't where they want to be in the table, but there was never any hesitation in my mind. It was an early start. I was up at 7am and out on the road north at about 7.15. I called in at the Forest training ground to get my boots and gloves and stuff like that, and then it was up the road to Middlesbrough to meet the manager and start preparing for the game. I was here a week ago with Forest so at least that gave me a chance to look around. The only thing I had to remember was to make sure I went in the right changing room before the game. I had a quick look at the programme to learn the lads' names! Actually, I know quite a few of them from various games in the past, and I know Danny Coyne pretty well as well. He's been very good in terms of getting me up to speed with things. It was a whirlwind 24 hours, but it was topped off with an important three points in the end. The victory over Derby provided a timely repost to the critics who had claimed last weekend's 5-2 defeat at Reading highlighted a lack of belief within the dressing room. In Forest, Smith has left a club that are filling the final play-off place, but the former Brentford and Southampton shot-stopper does not believe there is a marked difference in attitude or togetherness between the two squads. From what I've seen so far, there's not much difference between the mood in the dressing room here and the mood in the dressing room at Forest, he said. Both teams have a good spirit, with good young players desperate to impress and do well. I'm aware the back four haven't played that many games between them, but I don't think you would have known that if you were watching the game the other night. They got headers, blocks and tackles in when they were needed, and restricted to Derby to a handful of chances. I was certainly happy with them, and hopefully they were fairly happy with me. That back four could have to change when Boro visit Portsmouth at the weekend, though, as Joe Bennett sustained a wrist injury on Tuesday and will be assessed today. Former Middlesbrough first team coach Colin Cooper has been appointed as number two to Bradford interim manager Peter Jackson.
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